Lower Park project comes into focus
The effort to find better use for city property near lower Park Avenue gained a sharper focus at Thursday night’s city council meeting, where council was presented with four suggestions for how to proceed.
The four locations that were the focus of the presentation were: the old fire station at 1353 Park Ave.; the Miners Hospital; the Mawhinney lot adjacent to the skatepark; and the parking lot in front of the Park City library. Park City Economic Director Jonathan Weidenhamer said staff held public input meetings this month where residents showed a clear preference for the Mawhinney and Miners options.
"Although not statistically relevant, it seems like there is a strong majority of folks we talked to believe the two locations we should focus on are Miners and Mawhinney," he said.
In the Mawhinney option, a new senior center with community flex space would be built on the lot. The Miners Hospital option would include some sort of expansion to the site, although the specifics of that would have to be ironed out. The whole of the Miners Hospital grounds, including the looping street around it, would be up for consideration.
"The initial phase we would want to release would do site layouts," Weidenhamer said. "How do we park it, what are the volumetrics, what are the costs, how can we phase it. Get a good, solid design team in here to build on all the work we’ve done over the past three or four years and really make this a real project."
After hearing the presentation, several council members showed a preference for the mixed-use at the fire station space to focus on housing and to extend it all the way out to Park Avenue.
"I’m wondering why the housing doesn’t push through all the way onto the fire station site and kind of link more to Park Avenue," said Councilman Tim Henney.
Kim Clark, community engagement project manager, said the mixed-use plan does include housing and the residents who attended the public meetings also asked for a focus on that.
"There were comments about extending that housing to Park Avenue, and that is something I think the [request for proposals] will help to address," she said.
The council was not in agreement on Miners Hospital and whether they should consider construction there.
"Miners Hospital, I like the size and scale and setting of that thing and I personally don’t think that is the ideal place to put the seniors, nor do I think it is a place we need to expand," said Councilman Andy Beerman. "The size isn’t the reason why we are not using it well.
"I’m not super excited about that. If we feel the need to build, Mawhinney is an ideal place to do it."
The council did agree on the Mawhinney lot being an ideal location for a new building. They also frequently turned to the recreation center building in City Park. Councilwoman Liza Simpson joked that it ought to be bulldozed, and Beerman said they all agree on that point.
"I think we have a candidate for driving the bulldozer," Mayor Jack Thomas said to Simpson.
Weidenhamer reminded the council they need direction before an RFP could be sent out. After some more discussion, Beerman laid it out.
"The rec center is something we all agree on," he said. "Mawhinney is something we all agree on. Do we really need to do an RFP on Miners when we’re a little bit split on that one and we don’t have a desired use? We can circle back to Miners if the other options don’t meet our needs."
The rest of the council agreed, and Weidenhamer said the RFP will focus on the Mawhinney lot and the rec center building, with an emphasis on housing at the old fire station location. Weidenhamer said the current time table could see construction underway by the spring of 2017.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.